Water Bears in Space Can Help Protect Astronaut’s Health in Space

Tardigrade or Water Bears or Moss Piglets are eight-legged micro-animals. One of the most resilient animals known, Tardigrade, can be found in every part of the earth and can even survive in extreme conditions and places including space. Therefore, an experiment is going on, Cell Science-04, in the International Space Station. It will reveal how they are able to do it and with this, they can help the astronauts during their space travel.

Cell Science-04

According to the principal investigator of the experiment and assistant professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Thomas Boothby said, “We want to see what ‘tricks’ they use to survive when they arrive in space, and, over time, what tricks their offspring are using.” He also added, “Are they the same or do they change across generations? We just don’t know what to expect.”

To survive in space, the animal may have produced tons of antioxidants to survive from the harmful changes occurring in its body due to increased radiation in space. Boothby revealed, “We have seen them do this in response to radiation on Earth and we think the ways tardigrades have evolved to withstand extreme environments on this planet may also be what protects them against the stresses of spaceflight.”

According to The Research

The research team will also observe the genes of water bears in space. In this stressful moment, the researchers would see the genes turned on or off in tardigrade to identify their method to survive. Cell Science-04 will test which of the genes are truly required by the micro-animal.

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This will not be the first time when the tardigrades are onboard. They have already been exposed outside of the space station and even seen surviving. But this time, they would survive and reproduce in special science hardware, Bioculture System, developed by NASA’s Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley which also manages the mission. This hardware can help scientists to study the cells, tissues, and other micro-animals in space favorable to the conditions in which they grow. It can be used for long-term experiments.

This experiment could help in protecting the biological materials, such as food, medicines, from extreme temperatures and drying out which would be helpful for long-duration and deep-space learning.

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